News Article

Pokémon Developers: Paid DLC Could "Ruin The Worldview" of The Franchise

Posted by Tim Latshaw

Kalos does not accept your worthless paper currency

With the popularity, collectibility, and - let’s face it - addictibility of the Pokémon franchise, the specter of micro-transactions for special critters and bonuses seems to loom more menacingly as mobile gaming grows.

But according to Pokémon art director Ken Sugimori in a 4Gamer interview translated and summarised by Siliconera, paying real-world money to unlock certain Pokémon is something that has often not been seen as complementing the intended feel of the series:

The reason being is because it’s one of things that could "ruin the worldview" of Pokémon. I believe the reason we don’t simply commercialise is that it’s a way of protecting the brand, and for this purpose, we have the specialty company called The Pokémon Company. Therefore, suppose we sell a Pokémon for 100 yen, then we must prepare something that is worthy of that 100 yen, along with a reasonable consent for doing so.

4Gamer noted that Pokémon have been given away at certain paid events such as theater showings, creating a sort of micro-transaction in itself. Sugimori said that in such a case, there was more context with the giveaway, with a Pokémon just featured in a movie coming to viewers’ systems:

It’s not that we only want to distribute [Pokémon], but we want to give our customers a taste of a new experience. Whatever we do, we make sure it fits the worldview, and make sure it remains consistent. Those are some of the parts we place a great amount of importance into.

Sugimori did not fully dismiss the idea of paying directly for some Pokémon in the future, however:

If we ever get the idea of, “This could be fun if we could sell it for real-life money,” or something similar during the planning of a future game, then perhaps we could sell them for 100 yen.

Do you think we will ever see pay-to-catch Pokémon? Does such a concept appealing in any way? Let us know in the comments.


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User Comments (81)



Blast said:

NOO!! I'm so glad they don't wanna add paid DLC. Keep pouring more and more content for 40 bucks. Man... there is so much stuff in Pokemon X/Y for just 40 bucks and I luv that! Has anyone else tried to Game Sync to Pokemon Global Link????



Ibrahim77X said:

Right, OK. Paid DLC could "ruin the worldview of the franchise." But paying to transfer your Pokemon to X and Y (something that used to be free mind you) is A-ok!



Muyounosuke said:

Personally I think the only acceptable paid dlc for this game would be more clothes, pretty much since they don't affect the gameplay so that I'm fine with.



Akira said:

@Blastoise-san: I've had no problems using Game Sync, although they did have a maintenance period last night, I think, and often it seems like only the first attempt at syncing works (after I turn on the game), then when the game attempts to sync if I save, the server is 'busy.'

@Ibrahim77: Well, let's be fair - it is helping to pay the costs of server upkeep/bandwidth, and to help ensure your Pokemon will be transferable to later games/generations. Same with Flipnote's servers, if they ever make it available outside Japan.
Is it annoying that you no longer have an in-game way to transfer, and have to pay a (very minimal) $5/year charge for the service? Sure. But you've still generally had to pay for another DS and the games, so it hasn't exactly been free. And if the transfer allows for bulk transfers, as opposed to 1-6 Pokemon at a time... even better.



Megumi said:

DLC is fine...paid DLC isn't...let's not end up like a certain gaming company GameFreak. glares at EA



Megumi said:

As for the GameSync problem, they talked about it on the site itself, so you won't be able to use it as often at the moment.



Ecto-1 said:

I don't want to see new pokemon as paid DLC, but I wouldn't mind seeing past regions get offered as reasonably priced DLC. If they offered the classic regions like Kanto, Johto, and Hoenn for our X/Y trainers to explore and battle through for $5 to $10, I'd be more than happy to pay a bit more into a game that has already given me almost 50 hours of gameplay.



stonenature said:

It should only be for event items. I don't like the concept of not being able to get certain pokemon because I can't attend Pokemon conventions or events. But buying pokemon that you can get via wild encounter is silly.



rjejr said:

Here's my comment from this mornings creepy Pikachu video, it seems more relevant here:

800 purchasable NFC Pokemon toys. I think the Nintendo World Store already has $5 toys of most Pokemon anyway, might as well throw in a microchip.

On 2nd thought, not 800 Pokemon toys, just the basics, and you have to evolve them in game. Or buy a DLC code



BlatantlyHeroic said:

I feel like Pokemon X and Y didn't have enough content. I would love it if we were given more later on. At least make the Elite 4 more of a challenge or add in another region. I'm so booored right now just leveling my Pokemon up. :/



TingLz said:

@Ecto-1 You do realize that adding in regions and coding them in game would require a lot of work and may end up costing $20 instead of $5?



BlatantlyHeroic said:

@ScroogeMcLz Exactly what I was going to say. It would be worth it though. I'd like to go to Johto or Kanto again. Their Elite 4 would actually prove to be a challange.



Ecto-1 said:

@ScroogeMcLz I was actually leaning more towards $10 in my post, but I could see it being more. That said I would probably be willing to pay it so long as they didn't go insane with the pricing.



RoyalXIII said:

Please god no. Have free DLC for new clothes or something, but no free-to-play bs.



WiiUExposed said:

Having millions (hyperbole) of Japan exclusive events hurts the "worldview"

But anyway, pay to catch is a crutch for people who can't catch it themselves if the pokemon is available in game. If the pkmn isn't available in game, then that's a fault on Game Freak, it's annoying to see so many pokemon that you pretty much need to cheat to even obtain.



millarrp said:

To be honest I'm glad they aren't going doing DLC yet. It's a refreshing change from other similar games out there.



ACK said:

@rjejr Since I piggybacked you before, I'll do the same here:

A Wii U adventure game with various NFC pokeballs (Net, Luxury, Great, etc.) which hold 5 pokemon plus one legendary and grant a specific bonus to the entire team (similar to a held item). These allow you to seamlessly transfer a small team from X/Y and to friends' games. Your team effectively acts as your life: they all faint, it's game over.

Meanwhile, waves of legendary figurines would be released over several months. These are the sturdy foundation of a team. The figurines offer the ability to collect a large variety of toys while also allowing the ability to obtain otherwise rare legendaries. Unique (egg) moves, color variations, held items, etc. are all in play. Additionally, they could unlock unique areas, scenarios, and events to capture them.

This reduces such a concept to the necessary components, reduces clutter, and seems to offer more congruity (between the game and toys) while complimenting the inherent gameplay structure as opposed to overwhelming it.

EDIT: Forgot to mention, the poke balls would open and hold the figurines as well as store a team on the microchip. Seems obvious, I guess. Why not ship them with a set of stickers as well?



fushimushi said:

I don't want pokemon to turn into a P2W or in Poke terms.. Pay 2 Catch kind of game. It would just ruin the whole game itself. Like for example, if you can catch pokemon for irl money and also will eventually have to buy PokeBalls and items with irl money, why bother buying PokeBalls and/or items with irl money when you can get the Pokemon itself with irl money? (idk if that made sense but that's about the gist of it).
Pokemon is only one of the few games that I'll actually buy...
just maybe.. if they ever try to make a Pokemon mmo then perhaps a micro transaction system will be needed BUT not to get exclusive pokemons, but just for in-game items such as stones or character items (clothes, etc.)



fushimushi said:

That is much needed. I mean, maintaining the servers and all the other "thingies" would take at least a little bit of cash. But perhaps, maybe this is just also Nintendo's way of making more money



c1pher_c0mplet said:

Thank you, GameFreak and The Pokemon Company. I briefly tried mobile gaming about 3 yrs ago (iPod touch) and hurriedly ran back to my DSi XL (system at the time) for many reasons; "paying to win" being the biggest one. While I'm not against something like free or even reasonably-priced post-game downloads, I am against paying for basic gameplay elements or elements integral to the general enjoyment of a particular game (e.g. paying $1.99 for 10 Ultraballs). While "playing to win" has a place in gaming (I guess), the "traditional" setup where you pony up $xx.yy and get the full game should always have a place.



Kaze_Memaryu said:

The way Pokémon is right now - that's where it should stay.
If GameFreak wants to bring out paid DLC, they should only do so for stuff that neither provides advantages in battles nor includes stuff neccessary to complete the Dex.
I would probably pay a lot for new clothes/outfits... more than I should.



Ernest_The_Crab said:

@NoUsernameHere There's a difference here though. I'm pretty sure by setting up the servers the way they have you can SKIP generations in regards to transfers. The transfers you mention required transferring to another generation and then another generation which could require A LOT of different transfers.

I'd say $5 is worth the convenience for completely skipping generations for transfers.

You also put up your own counter-argument, "You wouldn't use it much anyways." This isn't for people who won't use it much. If you're not going to use it much then just transfer everything in the first free month.



Olmectron said:

@NoUsernameHere Okay. But, as several people commented before, in past Gens, you were able to transfer six at once, and using a process not so funny when you needed to trade 100+ Pokémon (the Pal Park for Gen III-IV, or the Poké Translator or wathever it was called for Gen IV-V). Now they say it will be possible to transfer hundreds of Pokémon within seconds, or some minutes.

Plus, even if nearly every Pokémon fan out there has at least two 3DS Systems (or one 3DS and a DS/Lite/i), new players with only a brand new 2DS (for example) and a copy of Pokémon X or Y won't be able to transfer their Pokémon if only the two systems transfer procedure were kept.

For example, I never had any friend who owned a Game Boy Color or a copy of Pokémon Gold or Silver, so I never was able to get the 251 Gen 2 Pokémon! I would have needed to buy another Game Boy Color and another copy of Pokémon Gold or Silver just for getting some version exclusive Pokés. Maybe it's not the same thing, but it was a lot expensive getting all the Pokés if you hadn't any Pokémon fan friend.

I would rather just pay five dollars for being able to transfer my older Gen Pokémon, since I don't have the money to get another 3DS/DS System.

Oh, and if you're not using it a lot, just use the free month trial when the service is out, and you're done, no need for paying anything.



AugustusOxy said:

I don't get the hate for DLC. A long time ago PC games capitalized on the concept of expansions and they were worth it. Then DLC reached a certain stage in which people were stupid enough to pay ten dollars for virtual clothes and crap (I blame Sony) and now the general belief that PAYING for an expansion to a good game is a bad idea.

If I can get another like, ten hours of gameplay, story, and even some new pokemon for like, seven bucks, I'd pay for it.



fushimushi said:

I'm also 14. It's also going to be a problem. But I'll have to negotiate with my 'rents (like paying them 5 bucks a year for this $5 a year thingy) and of course I'm also going for the free trial lol. But Pokemon Company hasn't stated yet, what they would do with your Pokemons if you can't pay the fee.
-As economy grows, so does technology and everything today seems like it has to be paid ^T



fushimushi said:

@AugustusOxy well, if we say. we do end up getting more regions or places to go to and more battles.. teh I'd definitely get the DLC.. but if it's just for a Pokemon then.. i'd drop it. Pay 2 Catch? I don't want them turning into Zynga making you pay everything.



TimLatshaw said:

@Gioku Erk! Well, it's not like there'd be anything wrong with that, right? Right??

Seriously, thanks for catching that! I've sent the request to get that corrected.



Olmectron said:

@NoUsernameHere Okay, sorry. Hadn't realized that. Certainly, it'll be hard for young players to pay even $5 a year. All settled down, then. I hope you get to pay at least one year. I think that would be enough, wouldn't it?



eaglebob345 said:

@ScroogeMcLz If I got to get all of the pokemon, gym leaders, events, etc. in the region for a measly $20 that would be very acceptable DLC as it would essentially be a new game.



eaglebob345 said:

@NoUsernameHere you don't have to pay if you use the free trial. Also, people keep forgetting that it is also supposed to limit hacked pokemon transferring into the new games. I don't agree with the cloud storage option, though. I think they should have set it up to check for hacks and the like but made it a downloadable thing like the dream radar. that way you will always be holding onto your pokemon and won't have to worry about server fees.



Olmectron said:

@Coldfirex44 Well, you're right, GameFreak has said nothing on that matter. My thoughts are that, after the free month, they will stop you from uploading 'mons to the server and they will only allow you to download them to your Pokémon X/Y version.

Although, all we can do is wait for them to comment on that.



fushimushi said:

@Olmectron Maybe this'll what they do. IF we don't get to pay the fee, maybe they'll just keep our 'mons there until we can actually pay again and give us access to the account?



eaglebob345 said:

@Olmectron I think they will let you get them out but won't let you put anymore in. At least, that's what I hope they do. I don't want Gamefreak to be Tyrunts about it. (you see what I did there?)



Clayfrd said:

I've always been fond of Nintendo's relatively anti-DLC stance. I definitely hope it continues.



DarkKirby said:

I want to add the prices for the provided content of the Fire Emblem Awakening DLCs were outrageous, and it could be argued that grinding for and playing some of the levels on higher difficulties was far too difficult and EXTREMELY time consuming without the assistance of DLC. Especially considering the lack of an account system AND how they never even patched the bugs in the game.



skywake said:

I'd have less of a problem with Pokemon Bank if there was more space for Pokemon on the actual game. Given the first month is free I could have easily moved over all of my old Pokemon. Without the space on the game though I can't.....

As for paid DLC for Pokemon I could see ways it would work. When you buy plushies in the shop they could include a unique QR code for downloading a special version of the Pokemon you just brought. Maybe even make some Pokemon exclusive to that sort of method.

The GTS is so open that I'm sure they'd filter through to people who didn't want to pay. So I don't see what the problem with that would be.



jjmesa16 said:

@BlatantlyHeroic I agree. I would have liked to see more content as I have already completed most of the game (I have to still catch Moltres). It seems like Black 2 and White 2 had more content, ie more legendaries, dream radar, white forest/black city, and a longer adventure overall. The search for mega stones, looker bureau, and things to do in lumiose city are nice but I think it would have been better to have a longer adventure. It should be a lot better when Pokemon bank comes out and we get to see all of our old Pokemon in 3D. Should be fun!!!



TySoN_F said:

Nintendo has so many games on their list that'd be a goldmine for overusing DLC but they don't for the most part (at least in most of their main series of games).

I personally wouldn't mind another region even if it was 20+ bucks. X/Y is ripe for redesigning older worlds for us to explore (though the Elite Four of X/Y are 60+ in level so balancing new regions might be an issue).



bigbankwill said:

Technically, anyone who bought Pokemon Dream Radar (including me) have already done this...but only once and its unlimited.



eaglebob345 said:

@skywake you can have up to 31 boxes on X/Y. Just put a pokemon in each box, then log out of the pc then back in. Repeat until you get to 31.



Einherjar said:

People are still upset about the pokebanks microscopic fee ? What the heck is wrong with you all ? If any Mainstream AAA title rehash every half year that goes for 70$ / € and is basicly the same game with a different title would get that kind of flak -.-
And paid DLC is perfectly fine, as long as it is not:
1) totally overpriced. Say, 1$ max for a set of clothes is absolutely fine. Dont go the Capcom road and charge 8+$ for a simple pallet change.
2) gamebreaking / pay2win. Selling super powered Pokemon, no matter the price, would not only drive away customers, but would also destroy the purpose of the game.

Giving the player the ability to save theyr progress (in that case his / her pokemon) on the internet, away from dieing backup batteries and SD Cards, accessable by multiple games for a fee, that is practicly not even worth mentioning is completely fine by me.
In times, where people are ok with pre ordering DLC that isnt even conceptualized yet (Bioshock infinite) or paying to be able to play online (XBL and soon PSN) if have no idea why something like this causes so much uproar. Dont whine about that it is the only way to get your B/W pokemon over to X/Y. These games werent supposed to be linkable in the first place like it was the case with any handheld change in the history of the series.

Look at X/Ys sales, look at how many people are playing it. Now look up what traffic that amount of players could cause. You whine about the fact that nintendo makes losses with the WIiU, but wehn they try to backup the server costs for such a system to make it last as long as possible, you whine again.



eaglebob345 said:

@Einherjar I don't think they were meant to trade over, because of all of the game mechanic changes and hacking control issues, but Gamefreak is trying to make fans happy and I respect them for it.
I think I will send over my stuff during the free trial, and if I like the service, connectivity and such, then I might just spend that yearly five bucks.



Ichiban said:

releasing DLC would ruin the worldview of the franchise, yet releasing 2 very similar games on the same day doesn't?



TingLz said:

@eaglebob345 You're also ignoring other points. First of all, Game Freak's time would be consumed by making these regions work with the new system. Second, if it were DLC, then it would be digital only unless they wanted to make a separate game. If it were a separate game, then Nintendo would definitely charge $40 for it. All in all, the new region would be pointless as "DLC"

@MeowGravy: They've been doing this since the first games and sales have not gone down since. I doubt the two games will ever change the world view

Also, the idea that Pokebank should have been free is simply ridiculous. You're given the option to store all your Pokemon in one space that you can access at any time on any device. You actually get more convenience this way.



audiobrainiac said:

SOAPBOX: First of all Sugimoto??? But yeah them charging me a dollar amount would be better than me DRIVING MY A$$ TO NEW YORK OR CALIFORNIA for a digital pokemon rarity i virtually have NO chance of ever downloading legitimately. SO ANNOYING. I'll probably never set foot in a 'Nintendo World Store' so long as i live. Its just too far away. HENCE, i've a downloaded Mew. What do they expect me to do? Paid DLC is the only Whay to make all available to us far-landers.



Caryslan said:

@Yukari_Sendo I have no problem with Paid DLC if its something like map packs for a game like Call of Duty that come out post release, or sizable DLC that adds on to the core game.

Heck, I don't even mind paying a couple of bucks for skins in Call of Duty. I love my Dragon Skin in Black Ops II, and its worth it for a few bucks.

My problem with Paid DLC is the one like Capcom did where you had to pay for modes or to unlock characters that were already on disc. Or companies that charge Ten bucks for a simple costume or skin. And of course, the worst one is the Pay to Win DLC. Extra skins is one thing, but offering an advantage to someone just because they pay is both unfair and a really low business model.

Paid DLC as a concept is not bad, its the publishers that abuse it that make it seem bad. If done properly, it can enhance a game. The problem is that the worst offenders like EA and Capcom get all the bad press, which makes people weary of Paid DLC.



FJOJR said:

The only DLC I'd accept for Pokemon is added story lines beyond the games original. Basically episodic content that isn't hidden away inside the actual game and needs to be "unlocked" by paying.



tripunktoj said:

"If we ever get the idea of, “This could be fun if we could sell it for real-life money,” or something similar during the planning of a future game, then perhaps we could sell them for 100 yen."

I don't think paying for anything (in any form) can make it more fun.



BakaKnight said:

I like the way they think, plus legendaries are already overpowered compared to normal pokemon, a "payed-pokemon" would totally mess up everything XD

Way better like now with some pokemons downloadable for free and others gave at events (where you pay, but for a experience like a movie or a whole big Poke-event and the DLC is actually just a little extra free gift ^_^).

I just don't understand why people keep complaining about Poke-Bank...
That service is about keep up to 3000 pokemon online, potentially forever, as long as there won't be surprises (like prices rising in future for "unknown" reasons) then it's fine; the transef aspect is just a little extra thing and for this round it will totally be free thanks to the trial.
Plus, if you won't use the PokeBank for what it is, paying in the worst case 5 extra bucks for transfer your Pokemon to the next games in future it's not a huge deal, we are at the 6th generation of Pokemons in over 10 years of franchise, it's not like they make a new release every year.



retro_player_22 said:

Good that they don't do this but I feel those legendary Pokemon like Mew could be paid DLC, I mean I did paid $30 (price of the Game Genie I bought) to unlock that creature in the original game (Pokemon Red) as it was impossible to find it during the normal playthrough anyways. Kinda sad too since I lived in areas that hardly ever had any Pokemon events.



Socar said:

Honestly I don't know why they put DLC assuming that for every event, they give the new pokemon for free and that Pokemon already has a lot of things to do. Its like saying put DLC for Animal crossing.



Raylax said:

Paid DLC to unlock certain Pokémon / items would be a horrible idea, and it would have to be the "on-disk unlock" variety simply because of how the whole trading and battling systems (by far the vast bulk of the games) work.

DLC for the single-player side - extra areas etc - might work, but then Pokémon has never been sidequest-heavy, again as as a result of the core engine. Pokémon doesn't really have Infinity Plus One Swords or other super-powerful items due to the need to keep the metagame balanced (albeit into tiers, but even up in Ubers there's no one King Above All, everything has its counters and checks), so it would be tricky to justify asking users to pay for a few extra fields.

Micro-transactions would really be the only viable way to go - £0.50 to make eggs hatch faster for X hours, to boost Exp, etc - but then micro-transactions are also extremely unpopular. Compounding the issue is the recent spate of news stories of young children borrowing their parents' smartphones and inadvertently running micro-transaction purchases up into the hundreds. Will Game Freak really want to sail those waters with a franchise marketed strongly towards young children? No matter what parental controls they include or how they market it, it's going to be quite a difficult sell in the current climate. I'm not sure that's a risk worth taking.



DarkNinja9 said:

@Ibrahim77 sums up my thoughts on this with:

"Right, OK. Paid DLC could "ruin the worldview of the franchise." But paying to transfer your Pokemon to X and Y (something that used to be free mind you) is A-ok!"

but i still glad they wont put dlc on a pokemon game we dont need it though we need more even pkm or new legends that werent in the game



jjmesa16 said:

Everyone who says that paying to transfer your pokemon from gen V to gen VI is wrong. If you look carefully it says that the first 30 days is free which should be enough time to transfer all of your pokemon!!! If you wish to continue the service, which will be around for a while, it will be $5 dollars a year or 42 cents a month or 1.5 cents a day.



rjejr said:

@ACK - I don't play Pokemon games so I don't know half of what you are talking about.

Pokemon Rumble U was a big wasted opportunity, my kids finished the game in about 4 hours before buying a single character. It wasn't bad for $18 but it wasn't Skylanders Giants or Pokepark 2.

Something will happen. Even Angry Birds has toys for app games. Theres too much money to be made.



Arcamenel said:

Why do people keep saying "it used to be free" when talking about transferring Pokemon? No it wasn't free because it still required a separate console which someone had to buy. So no it wasn't free, even if you used a friends handheld it still had to be purchased. This is a 5 buck annual fee that doesn't require you to have a separate system or put any stupid restrictions like only moving x number of pokemon a day.



crazyj2312 said:

paying for individual pokemon? heck no. paying for optional stuff like costumes and hairstyles based on gym leaders? I'm ready to drop a couple extra bucks.



Monsti said:

I think the transfer thing is a different issue. It is very comforting to know that after I payed my 40 bucks, I can access EVERYTHING.

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